FAQs by Students

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1. How many pages should the thesis be?

Depends on the school:

  • BABS: 70 pages, including references;
  • Mechanical/Manufacturing Engineering: 90-115 pages;
  • Photovoltaic and Solar Energy: 70 pages.

2. How long should each section be?

This is a very difficult question to answer! Some Schools have quite firm guidelines.  For example:


  • Intro (including Literature Review) ~15%;
  • Materials/methods ~15%;
  • Results ~ 35%;
  • Discussion ~15%;
  • Conclusions ~2%;
  • References ~15%.


Engineering can have the following range:

  • Intro 3%-10%;
  • Literature Review 8%-30%;
  • Methods 8%-20%;
  • Results 15%-60%;
  • Discussion 0%-10%;
  • Conclusions 1%;
  • References 2%.

(Note: Experimental Work section may combine Methods/Results).

See sample tables of contents

3. How should I order my results?

From most important to least important; OR answering each research question.

See writing up results

4. What sort of information should be in the methods section? 

  • Identification of hypotheses;
  • which methods chosen and why (the methodology);
  • description of research instruments;
  • procedure;
  • statistical treatment.

See samples methods

5. How should I order information in the methods section?

  • Overview of experiment;
  • sample; restrictions;
  • measures;
  • procedure;
  • experimental interventions;
  • data analysis.

See samples and note style and tense

6. What is the difference between an abstract and an introduction?

An abstract is 200-300 words and does the following:

  • introduces the topic
  • states the aim and rationale of the study
  • briefly describes main findings
  • gives implications of findings

An introduction is usually longer than an abstract and does the following:

  • introduces the topic
  • briefly reviews the current state of knowledge in the area
  • indicates gaps/shortcomings/problems in current research
  • states aim of your research and how it will fill the gap
  • gives an outline of the following chapters (Mort, 2002)

More: Sample abstracts and introductions in Thesis Structure

7. What referencing system should I use?

Another tricky question! Your supervisor will probably tell you to follow the referencing system used by one of the main journals in your field. Make sure you follow it accurately, and consider this advice: "…state at the top of your reference list which journal’s style you are following, so you cannot be criticised by examiners who favour some other style" (W. Sherwin 2007).

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